The sense that Nari will deliver a special night starts as soon as you step inside its gorgeous two-story space. Although the restaurant is situated in The Hotel Kabuki in Japantown, it doesn't feel like you’re in a hotel at all. You’re transported to a labyrinth of nooks with sexy curved booths, huge windows, and plants spilling out of every possible surface. The dining room looks like a lush botanical garden had a baby with a Finnish sauna.
But the stunning space isn’t the only reason this upscale Thai restaurant is a transformative experience. Nari has mastered the art of combining spicy, sweet, and salty flavors and showcasing fiery dishes that imprint themselves permanently on your brain. You’ll never forget the first time you lovingly gazed at the grilled squid and pork jowl—and you’ll never forget your second, third, or tenth time, either. We tell our coworkers, neighborhood baristas, and favorite Muni operators that their impressive seafood and lamb curries, citrusy salads, and nam jim jaew-covered pork chops are why Nari is a “get here yesterday” destination for big-ticket occasions.
We reviewed Nari back in 2019, and were, in short, blown away by the food. And, no surprises, we’re still blown away. Everything that lands in front of you hits like a no-skips album. Nari excels at blending seasonal ingredients with bold Thai flavors that dazzle. A heap of cubed and fried branzino dotted with chilis, served with the rest of the fish wrapped neatly around it, would top a theoretical SF Branzino Power Ranking. That grilled squid paired with melt-in-your-mouth pork jowl is a sticky, sweet mind-bender. And the curry puffs—a starter exclusive to the worthwhile $125 chef’s tasting menu—are made up of mesmerizing laminated layers and a duck confit filling that deserves a medal for being so tender.
Reserve Nari for occasions that warrant spending a considerable amount of money on multiple rounds of cocktails and phenomenal food—entrées range from $35 to $68. The splurge is worth it. Whether you’re thinking of spontaneously popping into the upstairs cocktail lounge to get your hands on a bowl of priking gai (you can walk in there and order a la carte), or looking to celebrate over a feast of incredible dishes, just get here. There’s no other Thai restaurant in the city like Nari.
Chef’s Pick Menu
The $125 chef’s pick menu has a couple of off-menu items, like the duck curry puffs you’ll see in your dreams for months, combined with showstopping dishes from the regular menu like the squid and pork jowl, branzino, and crispy eggplant curry. The nine-ish courses are appropriately portioned out to the number of people you’re with, and are a non-stop hit parade that’ll leave you well-stuffed into the night.
Duck Curry Puffs
These half moon-shaped puffs are an off-menu addition to the chef’s pick menu. They alone are worth the price of admission.
Squid & Pork Jowl
If Serena van der Woodsen was reincarnated as a dish you’d get this squid and pork jowl, the head-turning it girl of the menu. Order this and prepare to be forever changed.
We’d snack on these crispy little cubes daily and never get tired of them. Branzinos are hot ticket items on countless SF restaurant menus, but none of them make an impression like this one.
Nom Tok Moo
A saucy, slow-cooked pork chop is covered in zingy nam jim jaew sauce, and finished with a blanket of mint, cilantro, and toasted rice powder. Sticky rice and lettuce to wrap with help to cut through the spice.
This chicken is well-coated in a spicy-sweet curry paste that may make you suddenly very interested in your glass of water. Lean into it—this dish is incredible.